December 2015

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Sustainable Funding

Securing funding for sustainability projects can be a daunting task.  Local government too often must devote the bulk of its resources to projects that are long overdue, leaving little or nothing for proactive projects.  This creates a culture of putting out fires instead of preventing them.  Because sustainability projects are often focused on longer-term goals and can have higher initial cost, it can be difficult to compete for funding against projects that require immediate attention.  So how should you go about securing funding for your program’s projects? Developing green Capital Improvement Plans and operating budgets that outline the savings produced by efficient upgrades can create a strong case for the value of your work.  The following steps will help to strengthen your funding proposals.
  1. Develop green Capital Improvement Plans (CIP).  Work with the Mayor and the Finance Department to add a sustainability focus to annual CIP process.  Evaluating the city’s Climate Action Plan goals and determine which areas best apply to the CIP. Add value points to projects that incorporate sustainable elements.
  2. Show your value before you ask.  Use a capital project core criteria matrix to assess the value of potential projects.  Viability can be determined by ranking project impacts against target areas. Narrowing the field of projects on the front end will strengthen your proposal.  The City of Ann Arbor, MI developed a matrix to score capital improvement projects.  The matrix can be found in the Capital Improvements Programming document, here.
  3. Outline long term cost saving potential.  Sustainable upgrades to capital projects can be costly, but can produce substantial savings over time.  Develop an operating budget that uses the cost savings of efficient upgrades to pay back initial cost and fund future upgrades.
  4. Seek outside funding to offset the extra cost.  There are many grant opportunities from organizations to help local government sustainably update infrastructure and develop programs to increase overall efficiency.  The U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit is an excellent resource to search for funding opportunities.  Bringing a matching grant or other outside funding to the table with your proposal will increase its attractiveness.
  5. Do your homework. Relevant examples can enhance the validity of your project. Identifying case studies of similar projects in will show the potential value and viability of your project to the funding committee. Asheville, NC has a green CIP program, for instance.
  6. Develop an advocacy base in the community. Local government’s main purpose is to serve its community. With a strong community voice backing your program and projects that advance its goals, your proposal will likely carry more weight.
Bottom Line: Projects that focus on efficiency and sustainability are often not as competitive for funding as essential services like Fire or Police.  Quantifying the economic, social, and environmental benefits of projects (in that order) may help.  By taking the above steps, you can show that these projects are valuable and align with both local government and community goals.
Read SSDN Case Studies

Upcoming Events

SSDN Annual Meeting - Thanks to those who took the survey to help inform the upcoming Annual Meeting in Atlanta. The meeting will take place at Southface Energy Institute on April 6, 7 and 8, 2016.

Registration will be live by January 12, 2016 and members will receive a direct email notification from Meg notifying you that registration is open and with a direct link to do so online.


Southface Energy Institute is hiring a Policy Director! This is a new senior-level new, full-time position that will be working to lead policy work and sustainable development in Georgia and the southeast. Please share widely with those who might be interested.
See Job Description
Thanks to The Funders Network staff, partners from Knoxville and nearly 20 SSDN members who participated in an informational call about Partners for Places in December. This matching grant program connects local government and philanthropy to invest in sustainability projects that promote a healthy environment, a strong economy and well-being for all residents. The application deadline is 1/29/16. Check out the idea bank where you can read about project ideas submitted for past grants.
Partners for Places RFP


from SSDN

2016 membership dues notices have been sent out and are due January 15, 2016. 

Please email Meg Jamison if you're interested in finding out more about the SSDN membership commitment or if you have a question about membership dues. 
More information about membership can be found by clicking the membership button below.
Pay Dues Online
Tree Planting fundraising goal met! Thank you to all of you who donated to the tree planting fund that will go toward planting a tree in memorandum of those lost in the Charleston church shooting in April. A tree will soon be purchased and planted! Thanks to Estevan Baza for leading the effort and to Carolee Williams for helping with local coordination.
Southeast Sustainability Directors Network
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